reality "strange orphans" in our society existed since 1917, as well as much later than 1937.There is no doubt that my family's misfortune left a mark on my psyche, but to all that was evil therewas a counterweight in the great Russian literature, and particularly, in poetry, which wasfortunately close to my heart from early childhood. Then came World War II with its blood andsuffering, with terrible injustice of young lives cruelly cut short -lives of strangers and the most dearones alike. There was fear. Survival seemed a miracle. A poet's line fully applies to me: "I put thewar past me, but it passed through me."After the war I betrayed my first choice of vocation (I had volunteered to the front after my freshmanyear of study in Russian language and literature) and entered medical school. I wanted to do goodnot by word but deed, by everyday work. I have never regretted having become a physician. Eventoday I relive the sensation of happiness that accompanies the first cry of a newborn in the deliveryroom; or when entering the ward I would hear two or three dozen babies crying in unison, forfeeding time was near. I often found myself smiling as I walked toward their cries. A crying baby isan alive baby.It was in the family with its misfortunes and joys, in friends and books, in professional life, in theconcerns of a woman and a mother that I developed my own perception of the world and of myplace in it, my ideals. In essence, they are probably close to the values of humanism.Translated by Taliana YakelerichEDWARD O. WILSONEmeritus Professor of Entomology at Harvard University and author of numerous widely acclaimedbooks including Sociobiology.I was raised a Southern Baptist in a religious environment that favored a literal interpretation of theBible. But it happened that I also became fascinated by natural history at an early age, and, as abiology concentrator at the Universityof Alabama, discovered evolution. All that I had learned of theliving world to that point fell into place in a wholly new and intellectually compelling way. It wasapparent to me that life is connected not by supernatural design but by kinship, with species havingmultiplied out of other species to create, over hundreds of millions of years, the great panoply ofbiodiversity around us today. If a Divine Creator put it all here several thousand years ago, he alsosalted Earth from pole to pole with falsified massive, interlocking evidence to make scientistsbelieve life evolved autonomously. I realized that something was terribly wrong in this dissonance.The God depicted in Holy Scripture is variously benevolent, didactic, loving, angry, and vengeful,but never tricky.As time passed, I learned that scientific materialism explains vastly more of the tangible world,physical and biological, in precise and useful detail, than the Iron-Age theology and mysticismbequeathed us by the modern great religions ever dreamed. It offers an epic view of the origin andmeaning of humanityfar greater, and I believe more noble, than conceived byall the prophets of oldcombined. Its discoveries suggest that, like itor not, we are alone. We must measure and judgeourselves, and we will decide our own destiny.Why then, am I a humanist? Let me give the answer in terms of Blaise Pascal's Wager. Theseventeenth-century French philosopher said, in effect, live well but accept religious faith. "If I lost,"he wrote. "I would have lost little: If I won I would have gained eternal life."Given what we nowknowof the real world, I would turn the Wager around as follows: if fear and hope and reason dictate thatyou must accept the faith, do so, but treat this world as if there is none other.SIR HERMANN BONDIFellow of the Royal Society and past Master of Churchill College, Cambridge University.